We saw the film I Daniel Blake last night. It documents two stories, that of a widowed 59-year-old carpenter named Daniel who’s had a recent heart attack and doctors have ordered not to work, and a single mother named Katie who has been forced to move to a different city to secure housing for herself and her two children. Try as she might Katie simply can’t find work in her new location. As the two are stymied time after time in their attempts to negotiate the welfare system they become friends and offer support to one another.
Both the young mother and the woodworker are good people, who honestly want to be self-sufficient. Circumstances and a rigid and less than compassionate government bureaucracy make it difficult for them to receive needed benefits. It drives them both to take some demeaning actions to survive.
The film illustrates just how easy it could be for hardworking, affable and intelligent people to become homeless and how reaching out to someone to make a connection can make a difference.
This is not a ‘feel good’ film or easy escapist fare. We overheard a man exiting the theatre say to his companion in a voice dripping with sarcasm, “Thanks a lot for taking me to such a cheery movie.”
As we walked to our cars I asked my movie companions how many people like Daniel and Katie there could be right here in Winnipeg. “A lot more than we’d like to think,” one of them said.
Siloam Mission at the Art Gallery
Homelessness- Meeting With the Mayor
My Husband and the Pope Are On the Same Page
Paterson is calm and thoughtful. It is almost impossible to upset him. He follows basically the same routine every day. Gets up. Has cereal for breakfast. Drives his city bus route. Listens to his passengers talk to one another. Listens to his supervisor complain about his life. Goes home. Eats the supper his wife has prepared and listens to her tell him about her latest creative project- decorating cupcakes, making curtains or learning to play country music on the guitar. Takes his wife’s dog Marvin for a walk. Stops at the local pub for one beer and a chat with the bartender. Goes back home. Goes to bed.
But while Paterson is doing all these seemingly routine things he is also intimately observing the world around him, carefully considering every little thing he sees and listening thoughtfully to what people say. And then he writes poetry about his observations and reflections in a small brown notebook he keeps with him almost all the time. He rarely shows his wife these poems, never shows them or reads them to anyone else, and despite his wife’s constant urging never makes copies of them.
Paterson was the main character in a movie we saw last Sunday. The film moves quite slowly but in doing so invites the viewer to become calm and watch the story unfolding on the screen in the careful, patient, observant way of the film’s protagonist.
In conversation with my brother who saw the film with me, I realized that although my personality is quite different from Paterson’s we have some similarities. I also like to observe, listen, think and write about things I encounter each day. But unlike Paterson, who keeps his writing to himself, I have a need to share mine with others. Hence this blog.
Warms Your Heart and Makes You Laugh Out Loud
This is Just to Say
The Poetry of Boxing
Filed under Movies, Poetry
The last two movies I saw had main characters who smoked pretty much all the time. Annette Bening’s character Dorothea in Twentieth Century Women and Matthew Mc Conaughey’s character Kenny Wells in Gold. Both movies were set in times when smoking was still the social norm but I found it very distracting to see these characters constantly lighting up cigarettes or puffing away on them.
I realize in the decades in which these films take place most people didn’t know about the damage of second hand smoke but it still bothered me that Dorothea was constantly smoking around her young son and Kenny around his girlfriend and associates.
I grew up in an era when people smoked everywhere. As a teen if I went to watch a hockey game at the local arena I came home reeking of smoke from the smokers in the crowd. When I first started teaching the staff room in my Winnipeg school was blue with smoke. Many teachers lit up as soon as they entered.
I know that’s just how it was thirty and forty years ago and I fully recognize how hard it must be to quit smoking especially if you started smoking in that time when it was so acceptable. But for some reason it bothers me to see it in a movie. The smoking on screen troubles and distracts me. The World Health Organization published a report in 2015 calling for all movies with smoking in them to be labeled R. Apparently about half of Hollywood movies still have characters who smoke and the WHO has done research to show if kids see these movies they think smoking is cool and want to smoke too.
I am certainly not disputing the WHO’s findings but when I see smoking in movies I think it is anything but cool.
Sitting is the New Smoking
What Will Our Grandchildren Think?
Knuckleball- Think Mennonite Corner Gas
I had my eyes covered for a good deal of the second half of the movie Hacksaw Ridge as the camera documented the devastation of war in the most graphic and grotesque way. If director Mel Gibson thought we needed to be convinced about just how horrific war can be, he did a good job. As we follow the life of the main character Desmond Doss, a World War II army medic and conscientious objector who refuses to bear arms, Gibson shows us the heartbreak war can cause not only for the soldiers who are wounded but also for their families. One of the reasons Desmond becomes a pacifist is because he witnesses so much violence in his own home after his father returns from World War I suffering from a severe case of PTSD.
The real Desmond Doss being awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman
I think Hacksaw Ridge is supposed to be a feel good inspirational movie, documenting the true story of a man who saved 75 of his fellow injured soldiers during the World War II Battle of Okinawa. Doss was the first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor. But a couple of things about the movie troubled me.
Photo I took at the Colorado History Centre of a model of the barracks at the Amache Japanese Detention Camp
First of all the Japanese were portrayed as nameless villains called nips, a term that is an ethnic slur. Although Doss also rescues several Japanese soldiers during the battle we are told in a kind of wink of the eye reference that ‘none of them made it’ when a commanding officer asks about their ultimate fate. At a time when many ethnic groups including Asians are becoming the target of racist comments I was troubled by this stereotypical portrayal of the Japanese. One need only visit Hiroshima or talk to the children of Japanese detention camp survivors to see how devastating the war was for Japanese families as well.
Secondly I can’t distance the film from Mel Gibson’s personal life and career. He has been accused of anti Semitism in his film making, and of racism and domestic violence in his marriage relationships. Of course I know you can’t always separate the artist from their art, but at this particular time in history when the American president-elect has made racist, misogynist comments and yet people were able to separate themselves from that by still choosing to vote for him… I have to question the wisdom of separating people’s current careers from their past actions and words.
I’m left wondering if I should have gone to see Hacksaw Ridge. It’s not as if I needed something else to keep me awake at night!
Other posts about movies….
Golf Widow at the Movies
What’s the Best Way to Raise Children?
Post about Japanese Detention Camps…….
An American Nightmare
Filed under History, Movies
“Growing old is not for cowards.” My mother-in-law said that a number of times to me in the last years of her life. It is something I thought of over and over again as I watched the beautifully filmed Mr. Holmes on Friday night. As we witness the character growth of Sherlock Holmes, who exhibits exemplary courage in the face of his imminent death, we learn valuable lessons about growing old.
Never stop searching for answers.
Writing helps us remember.
Personal relationships are life’s greatest value.
Sometimes we need to fictionalize our past to some degree in order to live in the present.
Connections with nature enrich us, ground us and give us perspective.
Teaching something to someone else is energizing and rewarding.
Bees and bee-keeping play a prominent role in the movie Mr. Holmes and the life lessons the film teaches drip like honey from a comb into your heart- sweet and to be savoured.
Other posts about movies and relationships……...
A Sure Fire Way To Make Your Day
The Parent Child Connection
Love in a Lunchbox
Mennonite Names at the Movies is a game our friend Jim taught us. When a movie is over, you stay in your seat in the theatre, watch the credits roll and look for at least one Mennonite name. For those of you who read this blog and aren’t Mennonites- there are very typical Mennonite names and when you see them or hear them you just know they are Mennonite.
I’ve done a little research and apparently there are nearly 500 of these typical Mennonite names. Our friend Jim has been playing this game for a long time and says he has never seen a movie where there isn’t a Mennonite name in the credits. My husband and I often play the Mennonite name game in the theatre and we have also found a Mennonite name every time. By the way if you’d like to see some Mennonite names try this website- Shout Mennonite Names. Just press the ‘again’ button and you’ll see one Mennonite name after another.
Other posts about Mennonites….
Winnipeg and Mennonites in Gone Girl
Playing the Mennonite Game
Filed under Movies, Religion
I saw two movies in the last two days and they both made me incredibly sad.
Calvary is about a priest who knows someone is going to kill him in a week. The priest is a good man but he has been selected to ‘pay the price’ for all those priests who have used their position for evil. There are lots of characters in this movie with sad, lonely,messed up lives living cynically or hopelessly. The priest does his best to be patient and listen to them.
At one point the priest is praying with a woman who has just lost her husband in a senseless accident involving drunk teenage drivers. The priest remarks that it must be hard for her to accept how unfair life is in the face of her tragedy. The woman says what happened to her husband isn’t unfair, it was just something that happened. She says that what is really unfair is people who die who aren’t loved, who die without meaningful relationships. She and her husband loved each other so that didn’t happen to him.
It made me incredibly sad to think about how many isolated, lonely people there are like that in the world.
Boyhood is a film that was shot over a period of twelve years by the same cast. You see a boy become a man in a little under three hours. Viewers get a window on all those small seemingly mundane but meaningful moments in a family’s day-to-day existence, that quickly pile one on top of each other moving life along in a quick blur. I started crying when the mother in the movie is sending her youngest child off to college and can’t believe she has really arrived at this moment. Where has time gone? Where has her life gone? And really is this all there is to life? She has invested so much in her children and now they don’t seem to need her anymore. I think probably every mother has had a sad moment like this. The movie reminded me of how quickly our lives move along and end.
Both Calvary and Boyhood are very good movies. They make you think. They trouble you. They make you take stock of your own life. They make you cry. I’m glad I saw them. But the next movie I see definitely needs to be funny, light-hearted and very upbeat!
Other posts about movies………
Noah A Violent Movie
The Hundred Foot Journey
Jane Austin Overload